On Saturday the 19th of January, U.S. AFRICOM jets carried out airstrikes in Somalia, killing at least 52 al-Shabaab fighters. The strike occurred after more than 100 insurgents stormed and took control of parts of the Bar Sanguni military base near the Jilib district, Middle Juba region. According to U.S. military officials, no Americans were killed or wounded during the attack.
The morning attack was coordinated by al-Shabaab to include the use of several S/VBIEDs (suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices) to breach the outer perimeter and take parts of the camp with fighters on foot. After heavy fighting, the Somali National Army (SNA) sent special operations forces from the Danab (“Lightning”) Group—a U.S. Special Forces-trained commando unit—which drove the insurgents out of the base. As the insurgents fled, U.S. fighter jets took out the convoy comprised of 52 fighters. In total, approximately 80 fighters were killed, making this one of al-Shabaab’s most severe defeats.
al-Shabaab’s media channel claimed the terrorist group killed 41 Somali soldiers. The Somali government has yet to make an official statement refuting or corroborating those numbers.
The attack is also the first time the al-Qaeda-linked group has used armored S/VBIEDs in the region. They’ve seen widespread use in Syria. The Toyota Land Cruiser had some crude armor plating affixed to all doors and the windshield before it was filled with explosives. Fortunately, this S/VBIED never detonated, giving EOD experts the opportunity to investigate the vehicle and the explosives used.